Isabel Oakeshott

LAST night was extraordinary, and this morning it just gets better. Everyone is talking about Peter Watt’s sensational memoirs, which I ghost wrote for him – and I’m not surprised.

When I first met Peter nine months ago, I knew I had hit journalistic gold. Here was a man who had enjoyed the highest level of access inside the Labour government, who had worked closely with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and other towering figures in the Labour party on a daily basis - and crucially, he was ready to reveal what really went on behind the scenes.

It didn’t matter that Peter wasn’t a household name. It was not about who he was, but what he knew. Yes, there have been books about the Labour regime by famous insiders like Alastair Campbell and John Prescott. But they were never prepared to risk the consequences, political and personal, of telling us the embarrassing and often ugly truth about life behind closed doors at Labour HQ and in no10.

Watt was treated appallingly by Brown, and had no such reservations. He knew where the bodies were buried, and he was prepared to show us. After being publicly condemned by Brown despite his years of loyalty, then forced into silence by a police investigation, it was finally time for him to have his say.
Crucially, Peter understood what I needed to make his story really fly: colourful and irreverent anecdotes like his ghastly account of a dinner party he and his wife attended at no10. He was funny and self deprecating, and I knew we had to write this book.

A number of publishers shied away from the project. After all, the received wisdom is that political books don’t sell – or do they? Iain Dale at Biteback understood the massive potential. In the end, the book was the subject of a bitter bidding war. Biteback’s faith in this book is paying off.

Isabel Oakeshott is Deputy Politcal Editor of The Sunday Times